Study: Project labor deals raise campus construction costs by up - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Study: Project labor deals raise campus construction costs by up to 15 percent

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LA JOLLA (CNS) - Agreements between California school districts and labor result in increases of 13-15 percent in campus construction costs, according to a newly released study that a union for construction workers Friday called biased.

The 25-page report issued by the National University System Institute for Policy Research found that costs for school construction under project labor agreements averaged $28.90 per square foot higher than those without the deals.

The San Diego Building & Construction Trades Council issued a statement suggesting the report was funded by developers and ignored pertinent facts that could raise costs of certain school projects.

Both the construction industry and labor groups have heavily lobbied government bodies over PLAs in recent years. Business leaders claim they raise costs and prevent non-union shops from bidding on projects. Labor organizers contend they guarantee qualified workers and ensure the employment of local residents.

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education adopted a PLA for its $2.1 billion construction bond passed by voters in 2008. Such deals are banned in Chula Vista, Oceanside and unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

The authors of the study looked at 551 projects in California, involving 180 school districts in 37 counties. Of those, nearly 12 percent were built under PLAs. The authors said they adjusted their formulas based on higher costs for urban districts and other factors.

"Our examination of the data found no support for the proposition that PLA's reduce costs," they wrote.

The labor group contends the report includes a biased sample, and that when all factors are accounted for, PLAs do not increase costs. The statement said the authors did not account for differences in costs around the state for land and workers' pay, building codes unique from city to city, or weather.

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